Of Noble Book Tours

Last night, I made a rare weeknight trek across the bay to San Francisco. I got home late, and now I’m running on Irish breakfast tea as much as anything else.

And it was




The reason for this unusual behavior on my part was that Mary Robinette Kowal and Marie Brennan, fabulous authors, both, were finishing up their book tour with a stop at Borderlands Books. There were readings from books that aren’t out yet. There were puppets and natural history lessons. There were secrets that we are sworn to keep. There was fannish squeeing. Tor (their publisher) even bought us wine and cheese.

I must admit, at this point, that I don’t get out very much, and this was my first time going to a book tour stop in a very long time. It might have spoiled me for other tours. Mary and Marie both dressed in period clothing (Mary in a Regency-era dress that she herself sewed as practice for making the dress that appears on the cover of her most recent book, Of Noble Family, Marie in a Victorian dress sewn by one of the costumers for the SF Opera), and at the end of the reading, there were prizes for those who came in costume. (Next time they come through, I’m determined to put together a Back Watch parade uniform, or something approaching that, at least.)

Mary read from her upcoming novel, Ghost Talkers, which opens in a warehouse near the front during the Somme with our protagonist speaking to the spirit of a recently-deceased soldier of the Black Watch to determine enemy locations and movements and relay that information to command. I’ve been seriously excited for this book since I read a bit of its first chapter during the workshop I took from Mary back in January, but her reading, complete with accents (Mary is a professional audiobook narrator, after all) has me even more stoked (and panicking about how I’m going to finish my huge to-read pile in preparation for that book’s release). Following the reading, Mary (also a professional puppeteer) performed “The Broken Bridge,” a shadow puppet play that was popular during the time period in which her Glamourist Histories are set.

Marie took the podium next to read the first chapter from her upcoming fourth book in the Lady Trent series, the title of which I have sadly forgotten. Marie’s reading, likewise, was excellent, and she had the audience laughing many times. Her reading was followed by a brief natural history lecture in which artifacts from the world of her books were passed through the audience. Dragon teeth and claws, reproduction skulls and eggs, a mysterious fossil of an unknown but ginormous beast: Marie’s lecture had it all.

The readings and demonstrations were followed by a Q&A period, in which we, the attendees, learned some secrets. Pity you who were not there. We also got a story from Mary about her time on the set of Sesame Street. Yes, that Sesame Street.

I know, right?

So much squeeing.

A book signing followed, as is only right. We were bribed to buy local with the promise of sandalwood fans. My messenger bag smells fantastic.

And Mary recognized me, even though I wasn’t shivering under a pile of coats and blankets in my home office.

I got a hug from a Hugo-winning author. Hashtag humblebrag.

(EEEEeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! There, I managed to save that for later, rather than squeeing directly at Mary.)

So yeah. Worth it.

I can’t wait for their next book tour to come through town (Borderlands, I love you, but maybe Pegasus could have the next one, so I can stay in the East Bay?), and I really strongly encourage you to check out both authors’ books and stories and go see them the next time they come through your town. You won’t be sorry.


About Hilary B. Bisenieks

Hilary B. Bisenieks (Biss-en-yex) n. 1. An author of fact, fancy, and opinion based out of Oakland, CA. 2. A graduate of the Creative Writing program at Warren Wilson college and Mary Robinette Kowal's Short Story Workshop. 3. A man unable to be trusted to update basic biographical information with any regularity. View all posts by Hilary B. Bisenieks

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